Thursday, May 14, 2015

125 Years MBV

New logo ©Münsterbauverein

Yesterday night we, the presently 5114 active supporters of Freiburg's Minster church, celebrated the 125th anniversary of the Münsterbauverein (MBV = Society for the Preservation of the Minster) with a ceremonial act in the cathedral.

Introduction: Gregorian chant
Between day and dusk. Eerie illumination 
When a group of experts had confirmed the desolate state of the building in 1889 it was Freiburg's second founding father Otto Winterer who on May 13, 1890, called his citizens to preserve this jewel of Gothic art. Yesterday several speakers mentioned that Winterer's call for financial support was Freiburg's first citizens' initiative albeit it was the mayor who had taken the initiative. Soon nearly 10% of Freiburg's population of then 49,000 showed bürgerliches Engagement (civil engagement) and joined the MBV, the society for the preservation of the Minster church.

©Yvonne Faller
When Red Baron came to Freiburg fourteen years ago he admired the steeple of the Minster as many people before him. Some art historians celebrated the soaring pyramid of 116 meters with its opened-worked stonework in its slender upper part as "intellect" cast in stone. When comparing the steeples of the Basel, Strasbourg, and Freiburg cathedrals the well known proponent Jakob Burckhardt said in a lecture: And Freiburg will probably remain the most beautiful steeple on earth.

When nowadays Red Baron looks up the steeple a disfiguring scaffolding bars the view on the masterpiece of Gothic architecture.

Seen from the Wiehre near my home
Seen from Oberlinden
In Freiburg I not only became a member of the Münsterbauverein but when I noticed that the MBV was not present on the Internet I volunteered to build a web page. It was a challenge and learning by doing resulting in a somewhat clumsy programming code. This web site nevertheless served its purpose for more than ten years. However, before I could offer a more streamlined version - following years of learning and further web experience - the Münsterbauverein rightly so asked for professional help and introduced a completely new web site worthy its 150th anniversary.

The present scaffolding around the steeple will at least remain until the end of 2016. The reason is that a closer inspection of the building revealed severe damage to all 28 cornerstones of the pyramid each carrying a weight of 40 tons. Seven of these central building elements must be replaced in situ while 21 cornerstones although showing cracks will get a supporting structure of a blow-out patch and a titanium rod. Taking the old stones out and replacing them with new replicae is a technical challenge. How to support 40 tons of weight when a cornerstone is missing? They do it!

Replacing a cornerstone or open-heart surgery ©Münsterbauverein
As Dombaumeisterin (master builder) Yvonne Faller confirmed: Once the steeple is repaired we will attack the renovation of the other highlight of the cathedral, the Minster choir built in late Gothic style. This work will take at least 30 years and lots of money. For those of you who love the Minster and would like to support the preservation of Freiburg's Gothic jewel here are the banking data:

Freiburger Muensterbauverein
IBAN: DE10 6005 0101 0004 3808 81

Thank you!

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